cover image Saturday Is for Funerals

Saturday Is for Funerals

Unity Dow, Author, Max Essex, Author . Harvard Univ. $19.95 (2

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana is explored with sensitivity and scientific rigor in this heartening book from Dow, a Botswana High Court judge and novelist, and Essex, a Harvard professor and medical researcher specializing in HIV/AIDS. The authors offer an empathetic account of everyday life in a country where the disease infects one of every four adults—the constant funerals, the heroism of community workers and activists—and miniature narratives from the lives of the suffering and surviving: a teenager raising his siblings after being orphaned, a newlywed's discovering that her new husband is HIV-positive. In broad strokes, the authors cover the transmission and diagnosis of the disease, how drugs are researched and introduced on the market, and the humble and elaborate initiatives that have been so successful in Botswana: circumcision as well as HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy). Although occasionally repetitive, this richly informative book dispels much of the mystery still surrounding HIV/AIDS, revealing how life goes on for those infected. Readers overwhelmed by (and even numbed to) the images of desolation that accompany coverage of the epidemic will find a realistic but optimistic assessment of a society successfully tackling the problem and a model for other afflicted nations. (May)